When you and your former spouse share children, deciding how to share custody is one of the more complicated issues of a divorce. However, even if your divorce was contentious, this does not have to be painful process. You can work with your ex to create a parenting plan that protects your children and fits both of your lifestyles.
Think about what is best for your children
Before you start putting together a parenting schedule, you need to think about what is best for the children. You and your ex may not agree about everything, but you both want what is in the children's best interests. Maybe that means allowing your children to spend more time with your former spouse during the week. Just make sure this extra time works logistically. If you ex lives two hours away, you need to consider how that will fit with your children's school schedule.
Use a calendar
Agreeing to a schedule is important, but just talking about it is probably not enough. Seeing your shared parenting schedule in black and white may make you look at it differently. There is, of course, an app for that. Some apps offer helpful features a paper calendar lacks. Apps like Keep & Share feature online calendars and allow you and your former spouse to share photos, addresses, and other pertinent information. You can also share the calendar other people, like your kid's grandparents or anyone who may be a part of the parenting schedule. Cozi is free calendar app that allows you to track homework assignments and family milestones. You can even use Google Calendar. It offers a way to share editing permissions with another party.
You may not get every holiday you want
Maybe you and your children used to spend every Christmas at your parent's house. Traditions are important, but understand your family is different now. Expecting to have your children every Christmas is not fair to your former spouse. You will need to practice some give and take. You also need to realize you will be spending some holidays without your children.
But you still get vacation time with your kids
Even though you and ex have split up, you both still get vacation time with your children. Whether or not you go anywhere is up to you. For your parenting schedule, plan how much vacation time each party gets and whether the vacation is taken all at the same time. You may also consider the possibility of rotating who gets to schedule their vacation first each year. The need for this depends on the likelihood that you will try to schedule vacation at the same time. If your ex always like to take your kids skiing in the winter and you prefer a beach vacation in the summer, this may not be an issue.
Your parenting schedule should fit your family
You and your former spouse may find other people, like your family and friends, have opinions about what your parenting schedule should look like. While there is nothing wrong with seeking advice, ultimately you and your ex know what will work best for your family. Susie from next door may send her kids to her former husband's house every other weekend. That may work for Susie, but that might not be the best plan for your family. Your work schedules may be different, or maybe your ex lives just a few blocks away. According to the Huffington Post, you should plan schedule for your family's needs, not anyone else's.
Along with a schedule for visitation and custody, some parenting agreements also include information about medical care, schooling, child support, and even religious upbringing. Often these plans are filed with the court as part of divorce settlement, so your and former spouse should decide what needs to be included.